How we got our Bible
Sennacherib’s Prism is one of the many examples of written records from the empires that the Israelites were in contact with. It contains the Assyrian account of a military campaign, which extended into the Kingdom of Judah. These same events are also recorded in the Old Testament.
The Assyrian empire was expanded and maintained by its army. The citizens of newly conquered lands were mostly deported and resettled far from their homeland. Later, many would be inducted into the army.
The prism boasts that as Sennacherib’s army approached Judea, out of fear, King Hezekiah sent a tribute payment. This tribute included gold and silver, precious stones, ivory and a variety of other gifts. The prism records that Hezekiah did not submit to Assyrian authority. Forty-six fortified cities and many smaller towns were captured. The people and their domestic animals were taken as plunder. Pictorial descriptions of this campaign were carved into the walls of Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh. The prism records that coastal cities were also conquered. Jerusalem was, thereby, surrounded by the Assyrian army and Sennacherib boasted that Hezekiah was shut in like a caged bird. There is, however, no record of Jerusalem being captured or of Hezekiah being defeated.
The parallel record in II Kings admits that Hezekiah paid tribute in silver and gold to Sennacherib. The Bible also records that the walled cities of Judea were captured. Hezekiah, however, placed his faith in God and Jerusalem was spared. The Bible further states that Sennacherib had to retreat after many of his soldiers died during the night.
Source: British Museum website; II Kings 18 & 19.